Life often hands us the unexpected. Our boat was well covered and relatively tidy and all three heaters were working away when we left to spend a couple of weeks with family further south. We let people know we were going, asked our dock neighbour and a couple of friends to keep an eye on the boat for us, left the key with one of them and let the marina know about our plans. We felt we had done all that was necessary when we drove off.
Down south we had a good visit with family and friends and a very Merry Christmas. The weather was warm, sometimes windy; there was very little rain. Though we did see news of long, hard rains and flooding north and west of us and of some snow to the north as the time to return home drew close.
Our stay was pleasant, but leaving was eventful. On our way along the Turnpike one of our tires went almost flat. We managed to pull over to the side on a conveniently wide section of the shoulder where Richard put on the temporary spare so we could get to an auto repair shop. More than an hour and two auto shops later we were on our way again, after a broken valve stem had been repaired.
We arrived late at our first stop, a Georgia hotel showing evidence of dampness, possibly a result of the rain and flooding. Our room was dry enough, but there was wet carpet in the entrance and a dehumidifier in the hallway. Our route took us around the worst of the flooding in Macon, but the next day we could see the evidence of high water in the brown rivers and ponds we passed. Our second day was uneventful, the hotel we stopped at pleasant. On our third day the temperature started falling as we got closer to home. We saw remnants of snow in some of the fields and then along the sides of the highway.
One of our daughters lives close to us. She had texted the day before to ask whether we had run into bad weather on our travels. We did not fully understand the reason for the question until we got back to the boat. And even then, in the dark, we did not really see the full extent of the damage to our winter cover. We did wonder why our door was oddly out of place, but we were tired. We went in and went to bed.
The next morning we saw there was a hole in the top of our cover and the bottom of it was flapping in the wind where it had become detached from the frame. It turns out that a couple of nights before we got back there had been a storm, with winds high enough to burst fenders, cause boats to rub hard enough to remove paint and in at least one case to start stripping a cover, piece by piece away from its frame. A large, full dock box had been blown into the water. In some areas boats were moving enough to flip their fenders up and out from between boat and dock. The wind had come first from the east then the west, blowing the boats first one way then another.
One of our friends had come across from his own boat to check on ours when he saw our door had been blown open; after coming to close it a couple of times he found the whole door frame out of place. Our cover and frame were moving in the wind. He jammed the door frame back into its approximate position and made sure our lines were good, but could do no more.
After he told us this we looked down at our fenders and realized that they had been crushed between dock and boat hard enough to be deformed. But at least they had stayed in place.
We always feel a certain hesitation leaving our boat. We are aware of the risk that something will happen, and that the measures we have taken might not be enough to prevent damage. We would have preferred not to find any damage, but it’s not too bad to come back and find that after a storm has blown through the worst that has happened is that you have to repair your winter cover. Which Richard did the next day, using a new way of fastening the cover around the frame at the bottom and a new way of fastening the frame down.
We do know that the winds will blow again – it’s winter, after all. We just hope that they won’t blow as strongly.